Monthly Archives: October 2014

What Is Being Done To Restore the Gulf of Mexico

NOAA, Partners Announce Major Progress on Gulf of Mexico Restoration
from The Fishing Wire

More than $600 million in new projects will offset damage from Deepwater Horizon oil spill

NOAA and its fellow Natural Resource Damage Assessment trustees in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill have announced the signing of a formal Record of Decision to implement a Gulf restoration plan. The 44 projects, totaling an estimated $627 million, will restore barrier islands, shorelines, dunes, underwater grasses and oyster beds.

This announcement marks the largest suite of Gulf early restoration projects selected thus far in the wake of the 2010 oil spill. The projects aim to address a range of injuries to natural resources and the subsequent loss of recreational use.

“Preserving, protecting, and restoring natural resources is an integral part of our efforts to foster resilience in communities nationwide, including those affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill,” said Kathryn D. Sullivan, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “These projects reflect an earnest commitment to the Gulf and will enhance the region’s economic, social, and ecological resilience in the future.”

As outlined in the Final Programmatic and Phase III Early Restoration Plan and Early Restoration Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement, NOAA is supporting an overall Early Restoration plan that includes both ecological and human use projects. It is also fully supporting 44 specific projects to address injury across the Gulf. Of those, NOAA is directly involved in the implementation of four projects.

Map of Gulf of Mexico restoration

Map of Gulf of Mexico restoration

Locations of Phase III Deepwater Horizon early restoration projects in which NOAA is participating. (Photo: NOAA)

The largest NOAA project partnership will be with Louisiana to fund and execute restoration of beach, dune, and back-barrier marsh habitat on Chenier Ronquille, a barrier island off the state’s coast. Chenier Ronquille is one of four barrier islands proposed for restoration as part of the Louisiana Outer Coast Restoration Project that will be implemented by NOAA, the U.S. Department of Interior and Louisiana. The total cost to restore the four barrier islands is expected to be $318 million.

Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, and NOAA will partner to undertake three “living shorelines” projects. These projects involve a blend of restoration technologies used to stabilize shorelines and restore fish and wildlife habitat. The three projects are:

Alabama: NOAA will work with the state to fully implement the Swift Tract Living Shoreline Project. This project, costing $5 million, will construct approximately 1.6 miles of breakwaters covered with oyster shell to reduce shoreline erosion, protect salt marsh habitat, and restore ecosystem diversity and productivity in Mobile Bay. Restoration experts expect that over time, the breakwaters will develop into reefs, providing added reproductive and foraging habitat and shelter from predators. The 615-acre state-owned Swift Tract site is located in Bon Secour Bay and is part of the NOAA-supported Weeks Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve.

Florida: NOAA will partner with Florida for the Florida Pensacola Bay Living Shoreline Project to restore shoreline at two sites along the Pensacola waterfront. Project Greenshores Site II is located immediately west of Muscogee Wharf in downtown Pensacola. Restoration at PGS Site II has been planned in conjunction with the Sanders Beach site, three miles to the west. Both proposed sites feature breakwaters that will provide four acres of reef habitat and protect the 18.8 acres of salt marsh habitat that will be created through this project. The Pensacola project is expected to cost about $11 million.

Mississippi: NOAA will partner with the state to improve nearly six miles of shoreline as part of the proposed Hancock County Marsh Living Shoreline Project. The goal of the project is to reduce shoreline erosion by dampening wave energy and encouraging reestablishment of habitat in the region. The estimated cost is $50 million.

As the largest phase of early restoration efforts, Phase III sets a strategic approach for these and additional early restoration activities. The trustees received thousands of public comments that were instrumental in its development, and has issued a guide to the plan and projects.

These projects will be funded through the $1 billion provided to the trustees by BP, as part of the 2011 Framework Agreement on early restoration.

Ten early restoration projects already are in various stages of implementation as part of the first two phases of early restoration. Updates on these projects are available in an interactive atlas.

Early restoration provides an opportunity to implement restoration projects agreed upon by the trustees and BP prior to the completion of the full natural resource damage assessment and restoration plan. BP and other responsible parties are obligated to compensate the public for the full scope of the natural resource injury and lost use caused by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, including the cost of assessing such injury and planning for restoration.

For more than 20 years, NOAA’s Damage Assessment, Remediation, and Restoration Program has worked cooperatively with federal and state agencies, tribes, industry, and communities to respond to oil spills, ship groundings, and toxic releases. During that period NOAA has protected natural resources at more than 500 waste sites and 160 oil spills, securing more than $2.3 billion from responsible parties.

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Join us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and our other social media channels.

Can I Lose A Bass By Changing the Angle I Am Fighting It?

The fish I lost in the tournament two weeks ago taught me some more lessons about getting fish in the boat. The one bass I hooked in the Oconee tournament hit a Shadrap in a brush pile. When I set the hook it came to the top and I could see the hook was just barely in its mouth.

The fish was running to my right, around the front of the boat. Rather then try to turn it, I told Jim I would let it go around the boat and bring it to the other side. I also told him to net it quick or it would be gone.

The reason I did not try to make the fish turn and come to the near side of the boat is past experience. When a fish is hooked on a crankbait, trying to make them turn often pulls the hooks out. I think the plug acts as a lever, and when the angle changes, the hook can no longer hold.

I have lost several fish like that. The biggest was a huge bass at Jackson. It came to the top and, when I tried to pull it toward the boat, it just came off. It floated there for what seemed like several seconds before sinking out of sight. I guessed it weighed over 10 pounds.

Linda lost a monster bass at Clark’s Hill many years ago in the same way. She fought it till it was tired and on top. Just like the one I lost, when it turned on its side, the angle of the hook changed and it pulled off. There is nothing you can do in a case like that.

At Oconee, my bass went under the boat after coming around the front. When I tried to pull it to the surface for Jim to net, I pulled the hook out of its mouth. Again, I was pulling in the opposite direction from the way it was hooked. There was no way Jim could have netted it, although I fussed at him for not doing so.

A few minutes later, Jim hooked a fish. It was running to the right also, and when he tried to turn it, it pulled off. We never saw the fish, and neither of us had a fish to weigh in that day. Some days, if you don’t have bad luck you don’t have any luck at all.

If you hook a good fish, keep in mind hooks often pull out if you reverse the pull from the way it was hooked. Often there is nothing you can do about it but if you can lead the fish around in a circle it might help you land it.

Can I Catch Spotted Bass In Kentucky?

Spotted Bass Time in Kentucky Waters
from The Fishing Wire

Kentucky spot

Kentucky spot

This is the third installment of a series of articles titled “Fall Fishing Festival” profiling the productive fishing on Kentucky’s lakes, rivers and streams in fall.

FRANKFORT, Ky. – They were not even recognized as a distinctive fish species until 1927. People for many years believed these fish only existed in Kentucky.

In 1956, the Kentucky legislature designated this species the “Kentucky bass” and made them the official state fish. Many anglers, especially in the south-central portion of the United States, still call the spotted bass a Kentucky bass.

They pale in reputation to their black bass cousins, the largemouth and smallmouth bass, but the spunk shown once hooked and their abundance should raise the profile of the overlooked spotted bass. They are also aggressive and readily strike lures.

It isn’t hard to tell when a spotted bass strikes. They shake their heads violently and dive bomb toward the bottom. The larger ones 15 inches and up usually grow a pronounced belly as they mature. Spotted bass use that girth along with a powerful tail against an angler while playing the fish, producing as good a fight as any comparable largemouth bass.

Medium-light spinning rods with reels spooled with 6-pound fluorocarbon line is all you need for catching spotted bass.

Once the fall winds blow, spotted bass begin to school up. They locate along rock bluffs or they suspend over points, submerged humps or channel drops.

“At this time of year, if you catch one spotted bass, keep fishing that same spot,” said Chad Miles, administrative director of the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Foundation and dedicated spotted bass angler. “There might be 40 or 50 of them there. Spotted bass really school up in fall.”

Catch spots on topwater

Catch spots on topwater

In early to mid fall, these schools of spots often trap a cloud of shad against the surface and rip into them. Large, chrome topwater lures tossed into this melee draw vicious strikes. These same lures fished over points, humps and channel drops can draw spotted bass from a good distance below the lure, especially on our clear water lakes such as Lake Cumberland or Laurel River Lake.

John Williams, southeastern fisheries district program coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, reports Lake Cumberland holds a bountiful population of spotted bass with many fish in the 14- to 16-inch range. Spotted bass make up roughly half of the black bass found in the lake.

The main lake points from Harmon Creek down to Wolf Creek Dam hold spotted bass from fall through late spring. A 4-inch black finesse worm rigged on a 3/16-ounce Shakey head and slowly fished down those points is a deadly choice.

A hammered silver jigging spoon fished along the old Cumberland River bluffs in this section of the lake also produces spotted bass. Again, if you catch one spotted bass in fall, keep fishing the same area with the same technique. You might catch a dozen or more.

Large crappie minnows fished on size 1 circle hooks with two split shot lightly clamped on the line about 18 inches above the hook make a powerful choice for the large spotted bass in Laurel River Lake. The water of Laurel River Lake is as clear as the air and live bait works best.

The upper end of the Craigs Creek arm is a spotted bass hotspot on Laurel, as are the main lake points near the dam and in the lower section of Spruce Creek.

The mid-depth reservoirs in southern Kentucky hold excellent populations of larger spotted bass. Barren River Lake and Green River Lake hold some of the largest spotted bass in Kentucky.

The channel drops along the submerged Barren River adjacent to Barren River Lake State Park and the Narrows Access Area make excellent fall spots to try for spotted bass.

In Green River Lake, rock slides and points in the lower sections of the Robinson Creek arm and Green River arm are the best fall places. Green River Lake holds an impressive number of spotted bass longer than 15 inches.

Anglers fishing for largemouth bass in Kentucky Lake often stumble across a football-sized spotted bass. The secondary points in the major bays and creek arms in the middle section of the lake hold some impressive spotted bass in fall.

Smaller profile ¼-ounce football jigs in hues of green, brown and chartreuse attract these fish on Kentucky Lake.

Spotted bass make excellent table fare, by far the best tasting of the black bass species, similar to crappie in taste and texture. There is no minimum size limit on spotted bass statewide, but they still count toward the six fish aggregate black bass daily creel limit.

Hit the water and land some hard fighting and abundant spotted bass this fall. Keeping a few medium-sized spots for the table makes a delicious and nutritious meal.

Author Lee McClellan is a nationally award-winning associate editor for Kentucky Afield magazine, the official publication of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. He is a life-long hunter and angler, with a passion for smallmouth bass fishing.

What Is Yamaha Marine Doing To Improve?

Yamaha Moving on Many Fronts
Jim Shepherd
from The Fishing Wire

Spending 24 hours with the top officials at Yamaha’s Marine Group makes it easier to get enthusiastic about the immediate future of the boating industry. Arguably among the upper echelon of technical innovation, Yamaha continues their pursuit of improvement across virtually every element of their product categories.

Seven outboards

Seven outboards

Your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you, that’s two boats sporting seven outboard engines. Yamaha’s expanded their Helm Master system to include quad engine arrays and their 200 HP SHO model.

From their smallest 8 horsepower to massive quad engine arrays on their newest iteration of their Helm Master system for boats 40 feet and up in length, there are pushes that they believe will continue the gains the company has seen in the overall outboard market.

But it’s not just motors where they’re making big changes. Their propeller business is expected to crank out 50,000 + props this year- with new pitches across the line. Those varietals were added to the lines because with changes in some Yamaha engines -and additions of new ones- have changed what the believe are optimal prop/engine combos.

“We’re excited,” says Marine Group president Ben Speciale, “what we’re seeing since the great recession says good things.”

Those things include boating consumers are coming back into the market. And, Speciale says, when knowledgeable boaters come back, they “buy up” into boats that include improvements ranging from multi-screen fish-finding displays placed at each fishing position to better furnishings, higher quality seating and an overall ramp-up in performance in the pleasure and cruiser classes.

“Maybe the biggest mystery we see,” Speciale told the crowd of writers, “is the fact that in the new economy, one of the things fishermen have to have on their boats is a $2,000 anchor to hold their boat in six feet or less of water.”

Ranger and Yamaha

Ranger and Yamaha

At low speed, it’s not so obvious (Above), but throttle up Ranger’s Model 620 FS deep-v boat when it’s equipped with Yamaha’s new 25-inch shaft model VF250XA engine and you’ll understand -immediately- the power and performance increase.

The line about the power pole type anchor was funny, but indicative of the fact that boaters don’t thing less is more. Today, they want more: more boat, more features, and, more importantly (if you’re Yamaha), more performance from their boats.

Research shared with media invited to their freshwater preview held at their testing center near Chattanooga, Tennessee included information showing a demand for more advanced technology. Technology, Speciale says, that is offered in the four-stroke engine, but not the “older” 2-stroke technology.

Two stroke engines, Speciale says, is a techology Yamaha is “out of” in the United States.

As part of their overall strategy, Yamaha officials say they’ll continue to follow their roadmap for success: offeri high-quality products with dependability that create a high customer value for those products, a customer-focused approach to sales and service to build longevity into their customers, and a continued focus on what Speciale says is their “core competency” – the premium positions of the marine industry.

Yamaha also took the occasion to roll out new initiatives in the political world. Having already held more than 100 meetings with members of Congress, Yamaha says it’s expanding their push for three goals they feel critical to the overall health of the recreational fishing and boating industries.

Reauthorization of the Magnuson Stevens Act with an emphasis on fair treatment for recreational fishermen when it comes to fishing quotas,
A permanent cap of ten percent (10%) on ethanol -and support of HR Bill 1462, and
Engine regulations that “make sense”.

Additionally, Yamaha has created an Annual Roundtable on a National Recreational fishing and is pushing those advocacy issues via its 1,000 dealers and partner boat builders.

We’ll be covering much more of the new Yamaha product lines in other stores, but the positive tone Fishing Wire editor Frank Sargeant and I heard at Yamaha last week is one that we’re hearing across the entire industry.

That’s definitely news worth reporting.

As always, we’ll keep you posted.

What Is Ohio’s Silver Bullet Fishery?

Ohio’s Silver Bullet Fishery

By Kevin Kayle, Fish Biology Supervisor, Fairport Harbor Fisheries Research Station
from The Fishing Wire

Steelhead are called silver bullet fish

Steelhead are called silver bullet fish

Most anglers think about putting away their fishing gear for another year as we move into autumn. Now, many anglers are getting into a fantastic fishing opportunity for large, hard-fighting fish in Ohio’s streams and the nearshore areas of Lake Erie’s central basin that lasts from the fall through the spring. The ODNR Division of Wildlife has developed a world-class steelhead (trout) fishery in the central basin from Vermilion to the Pennsylvania border. It has become part of the renowned “Steelhead Alley” that brings in anglers from all across the country to fish for these silvery beauts from west of Cleveland to Buffalo.

Ohio’s steelhead program is maintained by annual stockings of Little Manistee strain steelhead yearlings reared at the division’s Castalia State Fish Hatchery. Each year 400,000 steelhead are stocked: 55,000 in the Vermilion River, 90,000 each in the Rocky, Chagrin, and Grand rivers, and 75,000 in Conneaut Creek. These juvenile fish spend less than a month in the rivers before migrating out into Lake Erie, where they eat and grow. Fish will begin to return in the fall after a good summer’s growth spurt and some cooler rains. The average steelhead caught by an angler has spent two or three summers out in Lake Erie and averages 24-25 inches and 4-5 pounds. About 10 percent of the steelhead caught by anglers exceeds 30 inches and 10 pounds.

The fall fishery blossoms first on piers, breakwalls, beaches, and harbors. Popular places include access locations at Conneaut’s west harbor, Ashtabula’s Walnut Beach breakwall, Geneva State Park breakwall, Arcola Creek beach, Fairport Harbor short pier, Mentor Headlands breakwall, the CEI breakwall in Eastlake, Cleveland’s E 55th Street breakwall, Huntington Reservation beach, and Bradstreet Landing pier by the Rocky River.

Anglers throw spoons, spinners, small crankbaits, and jigs tipped with maggots to entice the wandering steelies. Long fishing rods and fluorocarbon line help turn and land these powerful fighters. Keeping the drag loose and preparing for a fast, tough fight are helpful in keeping a moving and leaping steelhead on your line.

As the water and air temperatures cool and we move closer to winter, steelhead will migrate up our five stocked streams and adjacent streams, too. Anglers commonly switch over to trout or salmon eggs, small jigs, or a wide variety of fly fishing patterns to catch steelhead in the rivers and creeks. Steelhead fishing peaks in the streams from November through April.

The ODNR Division of Wildlife maintains a Steelhead Fishing Report webpage seasonally. We have the latest fishing conditions and hot bites, along with links to other basic and advanced steelhead fishing resources that are available from the ODNR Division of Wildlife and other government sources. Maps of stream access for the primary Lake Erie tributaries can be found here. Another good link is the US Geological Survey real-time stream data for Ohio gauging stations. This resource will help you evaluate river conditions before you go. They also have a similar mobile app available for your smartphone.

So don’t think of putting that fishing gear away just yet. The opportunity to hook and land a chrome freight train is waiting for you right on Lake Erie’s doorstep.

What Are Some Tips for Catching Muskie

Michigan DNR Offers Muskie Tips
from The Fishing Wire

Catch trophy muskie

Catch trophy muskie

Catching a big muskie will put a smile on your face.

Catching a big muskie will put a smile on your face.

Lures to catch  muskie

Lures to catch muskie

Catch a big muskie

Catch a big muskie

Michigan is home to two strains of muskellunge – the Great Lakes muskellunge and the northern muskellunge. Naturally-reproducing populations of northern muskellunge are located primarily in the western Upper Peninsula, but they have been stocked in numerous lakes statewide. Northern strain muskellunge were the primary strain stocked in Michigan until 2011 when the State shifted to raising only Great Lakes strain muskellunge. Still, northern strain fish are occasionally stocked through cooperative arrangements with other states and muskellunge organizations. Photo of boy holding muskie Naturally-reproducing populations of Great Lakes muskellunge exist in the Great Lakes and various connected waters, and they are also stocked into inland lakes and rivers where they do not naturally reproduce Tiger muskellunge, a hybrid between northern pike and muskellunge, were once stocked in Michigan, but no longer are raised in state fish hatcheries. Naturally-produced tiger muskellunge are rarely caught, though they are more prevalent in lakes with high abundance of northern pike.

Michigan’s Great Lakes muskellunge are most common in Lake St. Clair and the Detroit River, which feature world-class fisheries for the large, toothy predators. Lake St. Clair has a fairly large fleet of charter boats that target muskellunge by trolling, and a growing contingent of small boat anglers that cast or jig for them as well. Because the St. Clair system is fed by cold, Great Lakes water, the muskellunge season does not open until the first Saturday of June and runs through Dec. 15. Photo of muskie lures This season is being considered in other locations where muskellunge spawning occurs in May and June. Elsewhere, the fishing seasons mimic walleye seasons.

Often called “the fish of a thousand casts,” muskellunges are hard to come by; they are slow to mature and take many years to reach the minimum legal size of 42 inches. Legal-sized muskellunge are rarely caught by anglers who are not fishing specifically for them; Man with muskybecause of their large size and sharp teeth, they often break lines. Usually found with shallow weedy lakes and rivers with log jams and fallen timber, muskellunge retreat into deeper water during the heat of the summer. They can be caught by casting or trolling with very large plugs, spoons and spinners — usually behind a wire leader — that are retrieved or trolled at a fast rate or by bait anglers using large suckers. Though primarily fish eaters, muskellunge will take waterfowl or rodents when available.

While muskellunge can be taken by hook and line or spearing, there are special regulations on a number of inland lakes. Lake Hudson in Lenawee County, Thornapple Lake in Barry County, and Big Bear Lake in Otsego County are the state’s brood stock lakes and are closed to spearing.

For details on Michigan muskellunge, visit

Eating Strange Wild Critters

Tree Rats

Fried squirrel. Squirrel stew. BBQ squirrel. Squirrel and dumplings. Baked squirrel. Squirrel enchiladas. Squirrel chill. Squirrel cacciatore. Squirrel fricassee. Just how many ways are there to cook tree rats?

All the above recipes can be found on the internet, and I have tried many of them. But the best squirrel I ever ate was way back in the woods by Germany Creek. Joe and I had been camping for four days and had been eating nothing but the C-rations he brought and some loaf bread and peanut butter and jelly I supplied.

I had my .22 along for snake control and decided to shoot a squirrel one afternoon. We boiled that critter in my mess kit pot in creek water. No salt, no seasoning, no nothing added. But the meat was the first solid meat we had had, and when that juice was sopped up with the bread it was fantastic.

I was 16 at he time and had been eating squirrel all my life. Back in the late 1950s and early 60s when I was growing up, it was a rite of passage for boys to go squirrel hunting. From the time I was eight years old I was roaming the fall woods looking for targets in the trees for my .22 or .410. And I killed a bunch of them.
It was an unbreakable rule we ate everything we killed back then, so I had to skin and gut the squirrels when I got home and mom would cook them up the next day, after soaking them overnight in saltwater in the refrigerator. And she could cook them in several ways.

One of my favorite meals was fried squirrel with gravy, served over hot homemade biscuits.
She cooked chicken the same way and both were good. And the whole family ate the squirrels, with no complaining. We were just happy to have lots to eat.

I still kill a lot of squirrels and eat them each fall and winter. They gnawed into my attic so I keep a 12 gauge shotgun loaded with #6 shot by the door and shoot every one I see. I would rather shoot them with my .22 but there are just too many houses around for it.

Recently I smoked a squirrel and it was delicious! I put it in the smoker with lots of hickory for a couple of hours and the smoky flavor was great. I ate it as a snack rather than a meal because it was so good I ate the whole thing when “sampling” it!

I don’t really like cleaning them but it is pretty easy. When I was a kid pulling the skin off was a chore, and as I get older it seems to be getting harder again. But so far it is not too much trouble to be worth it.

One critter I ate was very good, but I will never try to skin one again. I shot a beaver in one of my ponds several years ago and decided to eat it. I didn’t think I would ever get it skinned. I had to cut off every tiny bit of the skin, there was no pulling it off. Starting at the lower legs I slowly trimmed between the meat and skin until I got the back half done. At that point I decided the front part didn’t have enough meat to mess with.

That was the reddest meat I have ever seen. I boiled it first, then floured and sautéed it in olive oil. Then I put it in a pan with potatoes, onions and carrots and baked it. It tasted just like a beef pot roast to me. From now own, since I can say I ate a beaver, I will buy a beef pot roast!

Gar also are tasty but very hard to skin. You can’t scale them, their scales are like armor plating. I was shown how to use tin snips and cut up the back, then peel the skin and scales to the side and cut out the meat down the backbone. It is tedious, hard work.

The meat sautéed in butter tastes like Florida lobster to me, kinds of chewy a little with some slight smoky fish flavor. But I found an easier way to cook them. I cut one gar into foot long chunks with a hack saw after gutting it then put it on the grill.

When it was cooked the skin and scales peeled off easily and the meat was even better! From now on, that is how I will cook them. If you run trotlines, jugs or bank hooks with live bait you will catch a bunch of them and you can also shoot them with a bow!

Give some unusual critter a try. You might find it tasty!

Why Are Life Jacket Codes Going Away?

Life Jacket Type Code Labels Go Away
from The Fishing Wire

Step Toward Eliminating Confusion and Introduction of New Designs

Life  Jacket Code

Life Jacket Code

In an effort to be more consumer friendly and spur innovation, the US Coast Guard is dropping its Type I-V labeling system.

ANNAPOLIS, MD. — In a move that’s expected to benefit recreational boaters, on Oct. 22 the US Coast Guard will drop the current life jacket type code scheme — Type I, II, III, IV and V — that has been used for years to label and differentiate the types of life jackets and their specific use. Chris Edmonston, BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety President and Chairman of the National Safe Boating Council, said, “The boating safety community believes this move by the Coast Guard will help lead the way toward more comfortable and innovative life jacket designs, help boaters stay on the right side of the law, lower costs, and save lives.”

Explains Edmonston, “This is positive news is that we will no longer see a Type I, II, III, IV or V label on a new life jacket label after Oct. 22. This type coding was unique to the United States, tended to confuse boaters, limited choice and increased the cost of life jackets.” He says removing the type coding is a first step towards the adoption of new standards that will eventually simplify life jacket requirements for recreational boaters.

“This move is expected to lead to the introduction of new life jacket designs, especially those made in other countries as US standards will be more ‘harmonized,’ initially Canada and eventually the European Union,” said Edmonston. “Along with a wider variety, aligning our standards with those to our neighbor to the north and across the Atlantic will help reduce prices as manufacturers won’t have to make products unique to the US market.”

Inflatable Life Jacket

Inflatable Life Jacket

Inflatable PFD’s have become very popular in recent years thanks to their comfort and ease of stowage.

However, Edmonston cautions boaters must still abide by the current standards when using older life jackets marked with the Type I-V labeling, as they will remain legal for use. “We must continue to have a properly fitted life jacket for all aboard, and as always, you’ll need to follow the label’s instructions regardless of when it was made. Simply put, if you follow the label, you’re following the law.” A full list of the current life jacket types and descriptions can be found at, and any update on new life jacket types and styles will be posted here when available.

In additional effort to help change the mindset of what a life jacket must look like, The BoatUS Foundation, the Personal Floatation Device Manufacturers Association (PFDMA) and the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), recently kicked off a “Innovations in Life Jacket Design Competition” to seek out the newest technologies and design ideas. Running through April 15, 2015, the contest seeks entries from groups or individuals, including collegiate design programs, armchair inventors or even boat and fishing clubs. Entries may be as simple as hand-drawn theoretical designs to working prototypes and will be judged based on four criteria: wearability, reliability, cost and innovation. For more, go to


About the BoatUS Foundation:

The BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water is a national leader promoting safe, clean and responsible boating. Funded primarily by donations from over half-million members of BoatUS, it provides innovative educational outreach directly to boaters and anglers with the aim of reducing accidents and fatalities, increasing stewardship of America’s waterways and keeping boating safe for all. A range of boating safety courses – including 33 free state courses – can be found at